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NEMESIO AZUCENA, vs. SEVERINO POTENCIANO & LAGUNA TRANSPORTATION CO., GR L-14028 6/30/1962 J.

Makalintal An action for damages which was allegedly sustained, as a result of a collision between Azucena's scooter and a bus of appellee Laguna Trans. Co, then driven by its co-appellee Severino Potenciano. Negligence is imputed to the driver, and to the company itself with respect to the choice and supervision of its employees. The allegations send to make out a case of quasi-delict, or culpa aquiliana, under Arts 2176 & 2180, CC. Complaint was filed. Defendants answered, with a counterclaim also for damages. They filed a supplemental pleading with a prayer for dismissal of the complaint on the ground that in the criminal action against Severino Potenciano for serious physical injuries with damage to property through reckless imprudence, involving the same accident which gave rise to the civil action, the accused was acquitted in CFI Laguna. Since the acquittal of the accused was based on a finding that he did not act recklessly or negligently the judgment in the criminal case is a bar to the civil action. Reliance is placed squarely on Rule 107, which provides, inter alia, that when a criminal action is instituted the civil action for recovery of civil liability arising from the offense charged is impliedly instituted with it, and that the extinction of the penal action does not carry with it extinction of the civil, unless the extinction proceeds from a declaration in a final judgment that the fact front which the civil might arise did not exist. ISSUE: which law should govern: Rule 107, a general rule, or specific provisions of Articles 31, 33 and 2177, CC::
ART. 31. When the civil action is based on an obligation not arising from the act or omission complained of as a felony, such civil action may proceed independently of the criminal proceedings and regardless of the result of the latter. ART. 33. In cases of defamation, fraud, and physical injuries, a civil action for damages, entirely separate and distinct from the criminal action, may be brought by the injured party. Such civil action shall proceed independently of the criminal prosecution, and shall require only a preponderance of evidence. ART. 2177. Responsibility for fault or negligence under the preceding article is entirely separate and distinct from the civil liability arising from negligence under the Penal Code. But the plaintiff can not recover damages twice for the same act or omission of the defendant.

RULING: Order appealed from set aside and the case is remanded to the Court of origin. Costs against defendants Appellees contend that the civil action referred to in Article 33 of the Civil Code is that which arises ex delicto, or from the commission of the offense involving defamation, fraud or physical injuries, and consequently, pursuant to Rule 107, section 1 (a), the right to file it must be expressly reserved in the criminal action if it is to prosper at all.

The contention is erroneous. Bachrach Motor Co., Inc. vs. Gamboa. It presupposes that there must first be a conviction for the crime, for without conviction there can be no offense to speak of from which civil liability could arise. Article 33 contemplates a civil action for the recovery of damages that is entirely unrelated to the purely criminal aspect of the case. This is the reason why only a preponderance of evidence and not proof beyond reasonable doubt is deemed sufficient.